In the wake of the Microsoft Windows Phone announcement, one glaring aspect of Microsoft’s prospects has remained in plain view – a significant gap in terms of available apps. All that is about to change as Microsoft states that more apps are on the way. That’s a big deal compared to the app availability that are part of the Android and Apple ecosystems. Apps are the way in which humans interact and know their devices best. From email, to sports scores, to music apps – the entire app spectrum forms as critical a component to the user experience as the operating system itself. All you have to do is look at the fact that in many cases apps on one platform have an identical appearance to the same app on another. Microsoft says it is bolstering its base of approximately 120,000 apps for its Windows Phone OS. Google and Apple ranks with approximately 700,000 apps for each. Microsoft is rushing to close that gap and in doing so, address a major factor that will help make the platform a success.
First off, a number of high-profile, well-known apps were recently announced. Among those that have announced their intent to deliver are Twitter, Skype, and Pandora. Paypal, DropBox, Disney, Lego and ESPN are also on the way, as just previewed at the Windows 8 Build Developer Conference. PayPal is also delivering an API that will let developers use their payment system. So the popular apps, and even some new stuff is on the way. Thus far, there has been a considerable obstacle in getting developers to write for what is inarguably a small base of smartphones on this platform.
Microsoft has put a lot of effort into the partnerships and positioning and appears headed for solid adoption. Reviews of their product have been encouraging and have seen support from 3 of the top 4 cell carriers and smartphone manufacturers. In all, they are launching a total of eight Windows Phone 8 smartphones before the end of this year. The marketing is all over the place as well, I dare you to sit through an hour of network television and not see one Windows 8 commercial right now. The same is planned for the Windows Phone 8. From the Windows Phone 8 launch – I bring you Steve Ballmer:
“People all over the world are about to fall in love with Windows Phones…Between Windows 8, Microsoft Surface or Windows Phone 8, you won’t be able to turn on the TV or open a magazine without seeing a Microsoft Windows ad”
Just yesterday Microsoft released its Software Development Kit (SDK) for Windows Phone 8, available for download immediately. This should create a boon of new apps flooding the marketplace. A great deal of developers started out developing for Windows and may have a lot of interest in returning to a native platform they have experience in and that offers cross-platform capabilities from smartphone, to tablet, to desktop. Many ventured into the Apple development market because of the leading opportunity to quickly monetize in the burgeoning ecosystem, and the same goes for Android. In fact, the arrival of the SDK into the public will result in a rush of new adopters and porting of existing apps into the ecosystem. Trends confirm that early entry into a platform with a solid app not only increases the likelihood of exposure, but increases the chances the app becomes a hit. It could be a developer gold rush of 2012.